It’s been a little over four months since the world was first introduced to the “World’s Most Interesting Intern.” During his summer internship, Greg created fun video blogs to showcase Cisco’s intern program and ask other interns outside of Cisco to submit video responses on why they are the most interesting interns.
Since then, Greg’s videos have received over 170,000 total YouTube views, 1,200 tweets and 1,700 facebook shares. In Q4 (which runs from mid-May to the end of July), total visitors to The Platform blog increased by 34%. Over 10 different interns submitted video responses and a good number of publications also wrote about the social media campaign including MASHABLE, the Wall Street Journal and B2B.
We are very excited to launch our new Social Media blog where we will highlight best practices, case studies and shared learning from across Cisco and beyond. This blog will serve as a platform for social media practitioners around the world both inside and outside Cisco to share their thoughts, insights and experiences connecting with customers via social media. We all know that social media is a two-way conversation and that’s why we’re hoping that you will join the discussion here and also share your experiences with us. We have lots of great insights to share with you but we’re also interested in hearing about specific topics that you’d like to see covered. Please post a comment below and let us know!
Scott Brown, Director of Marketing, Cisco Media Solutions Group - quoted on Twitter at the Digital Media Conference West, San Francisco
The above quote from Cisco Media Solutions Group Director of Marketing, Scott Brown, highlights a point we make often when speaking to our media and entertainment customers about the Cisco Eos® platform. We believe that a digital strategy (e.g. how you reach and engage consumers via digital distribution channels and social media) should not be separated from an overall media business strategy.
Record labels should be applauded for recognizing that digital is not a separate strategy from an overall business strategy. As much as they are berated by the press, the labels are leaders in creating what are known as ‘direct to consumer’ or ‘D2C’ strategies and business units, focused on reaching consumers directly via online channels (artist web sites, social networks). D2C is a much wider strategy than just selling music product (physical product or digital on iTunes). Such D2C business also involves collecting data about consumption of content on social networks and digital purchase behavior to drive strategies in the real world like, “where should my portfolio of artists be touring”? Jeremy Welt, SVP of New Media at Warner Bros Records offers that D2C strategy means many different things to different people.
Corporate news content isn’t very social by nature; historically, this includes some text-heavy press releases, maybe an earnings report, topped off with some ‘talking head’ videos. All is not lost. With a few simple (and some obvious) steps, you too can make your corporate news content social. Here are just 5 steps that we took for our corporate newsroom.
1. Facebook Fan Page/Twitter Handle -- Setting up a Facebook Page and Twitter account should be one of the first things you create (after amazing content). Distribute your content by placing it in a Facebook post and/or Tweet to let the sharing and engagement begin.
2. Youtube -- Almost all of the Cisco PR videos can be found on our Youtube channel. The viral possibilities, search engine rankings, and ease of use make it a must use tool.
We currently house almost 900 videos on Youtube with 1.5M views and counting.
3. Flickr -- Flickr allows us to easily upload and embed our photos within our news content. In the end, Flickr increases our SEO, makes our photos social and creates another entry point for our news site.
We currently share 784 photos with 1.3M+ views.
4. Social Sharing buttons -- Social Sharing buttons give readers the ability to take our content and recommend it to their network which is essential in getting our message across a multitude of networks.
5. Live Streaming Video -- Live streaming sites, in our case, Ustream, has created an environment that magically transforms our “talking head” executive videos into a fresh, engaging and insightful dialogue, driven by social media.
We have currently reached over 41,000 views on this new platform. Watch this quick video about Talk2Cisco to learn more about the program:
At our recent discussion at IBC about the challenges of monetizing content through social media, Claude London of BBC Worldwide identified three evolutionary phases media companies go through with social media and their branded content. (BTW: if you haven’t already heard the recording of this event, including Alex Balfour’s presentation on how the London 2012 Olympics is using social media, click here).
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been explored Claude’s concepts with various media execs in the digital media space, and have generally received a “yep, that’s what we did” response. Given the general consensus, here are the three phases media companies go through:
Phase 1 – “Social” as Communications
Business justification: It’s cheap
Objective: It’s cheap; do we need another reason?
Given the “free” or low-cost nature of many social channels, many brands get into social simply because of the price point. There generally is not a holistic strategy or business objective beyond following the crowd, or even because the boss heard about this <Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, etc> thing.
This is the Wild West of social with little centralization or corporate standards. There is also wide variability in the type of editorial content pushed out via the channel.
Phase 2 – Promotional Vehicle
Business justification: Engaging a broad audience to make them aware of our content
Objective: Identify and recruit fans of our content. While there are some brands that “listen” or engage audiences in a dialogue, there is usually a push or one-way mentality to the engagement.
After some period of letting the interns drive the social strategy, the media company wakes up and realizes they have several thousand followers on Facebook or Twitter… the light bulb goes on when they realize how effective social can be in attracting and engaging audiences (and it’s cheap!).
At this point, they put more rigor around their efforts often:
formalizing and centralizing some social media processes/standards and
starting an editorial process for identifying what content to push out to audiences
Social efforts and teams are usually still decentralized, and the focus is on growing audience reach.
It’s at this point – when social starts becoming its own channel, and requiring some level of investment – that some media companies begin to outsource to outside vendors/agencies/experts. How much the company outsources is a good predictor if they’ll progress to the next stage or not. As Claude pointed out in his original comments “social media is as much content as it is marketing. Content is what we [the media company] do. Don’t outsource that.”
As Claude and others have recognized, entertainment content and brands distributed in social channels take on a life as their own as valuable audience experience. Companies that view social as just another promotional channel don’t recognize the value they’re leaving on the table by not making social and their digital content strategy one-and-the-same.
I’m not advocating that media companies should ONLY be social on sites they control – after all, it’s critical that media companies go where audience lives. Media companies should just have a strategy about when they’re using social channels for promotion vs a social entertainment experience that they’re trying to monetize.
Phase 3 – Relationship and Monetization Platform
Business justification: Audience want to interact with, and around my brands… why shouldn’t I build a longer-term, valuable relationship with them – one that I can monetize
Objective: Build brand value, and revenue
Few media companies have made the leap into this last phase, although many in the last 6-12 months are starting to make this transition.
Whether they’ve outsourced or not, in this phase media companies realize they have been giving away their three most valuable assets to 3rd parties:
1. Premium content
2. their brand and
3. the data about the audience (or in other words, the direct relationship with consumers)
They look to remedy this situation by exerting more control over their content and brands to make sure they are realizing some of the value being created on these high-value, social entertainment experiences. To achieve this, media companies begin to centralize staff and activities to realize economies / efficiencies of scale. They also tend to adopt a portfolio approach to their social channels, segmenting them by them by the experience or value they add at each stage of a consumer’s engagement with that brand or content.
The actual monetization of content is highly dependent on what is appropriate for that brand, audience and the social channel in which the experience is happening. Experimenting with what monetization efforts work with what social channels and audiences is the new Wild West.
I’d like to hear your perspectives on this. What phase is your company in? What do you think are the critical factors or items for a company to move from one phase to another? Are there any companies doing a great job at monetizing content in the social channel?